Much has changed since Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery was built 100 years ago, but what’s more important is what’s stayed constant.
This month, as we celebrate the South Carolina hatchery’s anniversary, it’s important to note the critical role Orangeburg plays in fisheries conservation across the country. It’s a role that has adapted to the changing needs of Americans throughout its history.
When Orangeburg was first established, it provided fish for subsistence, stocking local farm ponds and sending other fish by railcar all across the county.
Today it works with endangered species, including the shortnose sturgeon and freshwater mussels. It also produces fish for recreation, like striped bass, a popular sport fish.
And the economic impact of this hatchery? The economic value of recreational fish production at Orangeburg was more than $13.3 million in 2010, generating 127 jobs throughout many industries, worth $3.3 million in wages.
It’s also a popular destination for visitors (20,000 each year!), and offers innovative outdoor classrooms, a nature-explore playground, trails, bird watching, a 100-acre lake and a visitor center with aquarium. Orangeburg promotes the importance of connecting people, especially children, to nature with special events held throughout the year.
But Orangeburg is just one of the 70 great hatcheries across the country. From Quilcene in Washington state, which also turned 100 this year, to Craig Brook in Maine, which has been around for more than 120 years, National Fish Hatcheries have long played an important environmental, economic, and educational role in their communities and beyond.
The hatcheries fall under the Fisheries program, which consists of 70 National Fish Hatcheries and other facilities dedicated to recovering species listed under the Endangered Species Act, restoring native aquatic populations, and providing fish to benefit Tribes and National Wildlife Refuges.
If you’re interested in more on the Fisheries program, we recently celebrated their 140th anniversary with an interview series. Check them out and you’ll be hooked!